Jocelyne Gilbert looks down into the deep Newsome Creek gully on Sunday, Oct. 28, which is becoming less and less stable. (File photo)

Jocelyne Gilbert looks down into the deep Newsome Creek gully on Sunday, Oct. 28, which is becoming less and less stable. (File photo)

Engineers find ways to shore up Sorrento’s Newsome Creek

Mitigation work that would save houses along the eroding bank to cost five to six million.

Engineers have delivered their recommendations on ways to save the homes at risk from the creek bank erosion along Newsome Creek in Sorrento. The question remaining is who will pay for the expensive mitigation work.

Three option were proposed in the report compiled by engineering firms Westrek and Kerr Wood Leidal, ranging in cost from $4.8 to $6.2 million.

The area studied for the report spans 520 metres of the creek running from the Trans-Canada Highway to Shuswap Lake. The houses at risk from eroding banks are located along this stretch of the creek. According to a report from last fall, four properties along Sorrento’s Caen Road could be affected by imminent bank failure.

The latest report, dated June 7, which was discussed at the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s June 20 board meeting, said nine possible options for mitigating erosion and slope stability concerns were identified. After closer consideration and input from the community, three options remain for consideration. A rock-lined channel is one option and would cost $4.8 million. The other options are a culvert almost three metres in diameter and a sheet pile wall with bed stabilizers; they would cost $5 million and $6.2 million respectively.

“It’s a very concerning situation. We have people who are living in homes that are tottering on the edge of a ravine. Those folks are understandably anxious and they appreciate anything that we can do so they can be made whole again and this is a good step in that direction,”said CSRD Area C director Paul Demenok.

Read More: Erosion worries plague homeowners along Newsome Creek in Sorrento

Read More: Update: Residents urged to avoid Newsome Creek banks amid evacuation alert

CSRD board chair Rhona Martin noted that the mitigation options are very expensive. She added that a recent meeting with MLA Greg Kyllo and provincial government officials ended positively.

Demenok said he is delighted with the way the meeting went and attributed the province’s cooperative attitude on the Newsome Creek problem to correspondence recently sent to them by CSRD Chief Administrative Officer Charles Hamilton. The province had previously maintained that it is the responsibility of local governments to apply for funding for stream mitigation works. Hamilton’s letter placed the onus on the province by invoking the recent court decision which involved the District of Sicamous.

According to Demenok, there is disaster mitigation funding available which could be accessed by the CSRD and government ministries to perform work related to Newsome Creek. One part of the work which is already underway is the replacement of culverts where the creek crosses under roads. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told the Observer that six culverts would be replaced before spring 2020.

Read More: Court decision prompts CSRD to throw flood mitigation back at province

Read More: Regional district takes on Newsome Creek work

Demenok moved that a cost estimate be reached for assessment of Newsome Creek upstream of the Trans-Canada Highway as well as all the streams that feed into it to better understand the hazard. He said the study could be paid for under the disaster mitigation funding application which provincial agencies may be applying for to conduct other work related to the creek.

Hamilton said there are larger problems than Newsome Creek alone and agreed the study should be undertaken but said the onus could also be placed on the province to pay for having a cost estimate on such a study done.

The board approved the motion.

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Salmon Arm Observer